Last week I was given the opportunity of a lifetime – a chance to sit down with visual effects legend John Knoll. I expected that talking to a man who has defined visual effects for the last 20 years would be a revelation – and I wasn’t disappointed. During the interview, we talked about a lot of things ranging from his first visual effects job, to his ground breaking work in The Abyss, to VFX supervising Star Wars.
What you won’t see on camera, however, is a conversation we had on the subject of shyness and how it keeps a person from succeeding. By nature, John Knoll is a quiet and brilliant guy, who is also extremely modest about his achievements. But what he is not, however, is shy. He has made some pretty bold moves in his career – the boldest of which, I think was a phone call he made when he was a teenager (you’ll hear about it in the interview when it airs on Red Giant TV).
If you’ve kept up with my blog, you know that I think shyness is one of the biggest obstacles to a person’s success. But something I hadn’t considered, and that John pointed out, is that your shyness also keeps others from succeeding, as well. If you are too fearful to give your opinion to people you work with, you’re robbing them of a different perspective that could help them to do better work. You need to remember that most people want to do good work, even if it means hearing some constructive criticism. Shyness keeps you from speaking your mind and helping others grow.
He also talked to me about not bringing work home, and how, when he spends time with his family, he doesn’t think about work. I can tell you that while I work really hard at it, I have a lot of trouble fully disengaging from work at the end of the day. But, frankly, if John Knoll can mentally leave the responsibility of a 300 million dollar film at the office to have dinner with his family, I guess I can learn to do the same.
My budgets, after all, are slightly smaller.
Looking for other advice or inspiration? Don’t forget to read my article: “You’re Not That Talented, and Other Advice.”